Fashion

Walking tall in an ocean plastic gown

Gaurav Gupta’s sketches for the Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale  

Usually, the phrase ‘sustainable chic’ isn’t used in the context of an eveningwear brand. It loosely implies ethically-sourced, organic, breathable fabrics. Designer Gaurav Gupta, however, is attempting to redefine the lexicon of sustainability at the ongoing FDCI x Lakmé Fashion Week, with his Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale outing tomorrow — a drive-in, physical show. Kareena Kapoor (“a self-made artiste with a sense of humour,” according to Gupta) will be the showstopper.

“With ‘#Redefine’, I am challenging how people look at sustainability, which is always viewed as either daywear or organic. I make sculpted couture evening gowns; hence, I wanted to make sustainability sexy,” he says.

Early to the naked trend
  • Naked dresses have been having a moment — think Zoe Kravitz’s Saint Laurent and Kendall Jenner’s Givenchy at the Met Gala. And Gupta is no stranger to the trend. When I bring it up, he is quick to recall his first naked dress, made in 2013, which Lady Victoria Hervey wore to Golden Globes. “There are five naked dresses at every award season. I don’'t know why people fixate on the latest celebrities wearing it. Naked dress will be there forever!” he quips.

What inspired the designer to embrace a path of eco-conscious couture? “When I was diving in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands earlier this year, the amount of plastic I saw in the ocean and on the beaches was just shocking. It’s different when you see it digitally, and a completely moving visual when you see it in person,” he recalls.

Keep the dialogue going

Of late, several labels have been trying to go partly or fully sustainable in their practices. A few months ago, on World Oceans Day, designer duo Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja announced their sustainable swimwear range, manufactured from fabrics derived from recycled ocean waste. Internationally, luxury watch brands such as Breitling and Ulysse Nardin have put plastic ocean waste to good use as cases or straps.

Gaurav Gupta’s sketches for the Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale

Gaurav Gupta’s sketches for the Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale  

So, did Gupta have a sustainable model while conceptualising this line? “I am not claiming to be fully sustainable, and I don’t think any brand in the world can claim this,” he points out. “As long as there’s some point of consumerism, it isn’t sustainable. And sustainability is relative — if certain brands use it as a marketing tool, it’s their situation. But consumers today are very aware and [in the long run, such strategies] won’t take the brands anywhere. Meanwhile, the dialogue on sustainability has to go on.”

Glamour with heart

For Gupta, his sustainable journey started a while ago when he’d visit his factory and see plastic covering every garment. “We started working on it three to four years back. It took us some time to find the right resources [Waste2Wear] to make jacket covers from ocean and landfill plastic,” says the designer, who tries to incorporate eco-friendly practices in his everyday life, by using his electric car and saying no to plastic bags. Now, he has extended it to his garments too — with fabric from EcoKaari.

Made for men
  • Recently, actor Sidharth Malhotra wore his edgy multi-angular bandhgala set at the Himalayan Film Festival in Leh, which became a talking point. This lineup features 10 to 15 of his menswear ensembles. “Our menswear is a different planet in the sartorial world and it has its own moons [laughs]. I am not a trend-based designer. I make artistic clothes; they become a trend because what I do is so peculiar and indigenous,” he says, with a note of pride.

Detailing from one of the designs for Gaurav Gupta’s Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale

Detailing from one of the designs for Gaurav Gupta’s Lakmé Absolute Grand Finale  

For him, the 48-piece evening wear collection is a statement — with couture, demi-couture, and ready-to-wear. When quizzed about the fact that sustainability escalates price points, he says, “I do couture and demi-couture, and I use luxury fabrics [this collection also includes silver and gold lamé, sequins, jersey, and neoprene]. Here, I have literally taken plastic from the ocean or land, woven it into my fabric, and draped it as a glamorous gown. That’s a direct way — both artistic capability and thought process come into play here. Pricing has more to do with material cost and labour hours, but sustainability needn’t always be expensive. For me, it’s about finding the right resource.”

#Redefine could well be the first of many sustainable lines to come from Gupta’s stable. Also, keeping in mind recent developments in Indian fashion, is he considering corporate investment? While he doesn’t mind considering it, he states that “it requires a lot of planning and strategy, and, right now, I am happy with where I am”.

Watch Gaurav Gupta’s show on October 10 at 9.30 pm. Details: lakmefashionweek.co.in

Walking tall in an ocean plastic gown


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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:48:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/gaurav-gupta-fdci-lakm-fashion-week-redefine-kareena-kapoor-ocean-plastic-lakm-absolute-grand-finale-recycle/article36903812.ece

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